England & Wales Health and social care, Personal and organisational development

Improving care through failure


The Japanese art of kintsugi turns brokenness into beauty. The method of repair, using golden seams to rejoin shards, draws the eye to the what was once a point of failure and is now a more beautiful whole.  Having spent the past several months deeply imbedded in the issues around social care provider failure, I think there are some clear parallels. Councils that have experienced a problem with care providers have often come out stronger, with more robust procedures and individuals are receiving better, safer and more consistent care.

Kintsugi is a creation of more than one hand – there is both the potter and the repairer. Having robust social care takes many partners, too. In the guide, we highlight the importance of having many hands co-design continuity and contingency plans – and the importance of involving commissioners, providers, care workers and care users input to continuity plans.  Councils and providers both must understand their contributions to a thriving market for care with strong and healthy providers.

No one wants social care to fail. But sometimes it does, and for many reasons. Research for this guide indicated that around three quarters of councils have experienced a provider failure in the last year and about as many expect to see a social care provider fail on their patch in the next.  To support councils and ultimately the people who receive care, today we issue Care and Continuity: Contingency Planning for Provider Failure – a guide for local authorities we produced with ADASS, the Department of Health and the LGA. It addresses some of the reasons care providers fail, councils’ statutory obligations and how councils can plan for and deal with provider failure.


The guide contains useful and practical advice for councils who want to develop or review contingency plans. It can also be used to by senior management to review the effectiveness of contingency and continuity plans. It is part of a wider suite of support for the implementation of the Care Act 2014 which can be accessed through our Care and Continuity resource pack.